Class action lawsuits involving the recent Volkswagen scandal continue to develop. Soon after the EPA issued a Notice of Violation against Volkswagen back in September after it was found the company feigned its results on emissions tests, the company sought legal representation, which it found in Chicago-based firm Kirkland & Ellis LLP. Besides the class action lawsuits it faces in the United States and England, the company must also fend off criminal charges and derivative shareholder suits being brought against it.
The flurry of litigation has left many consumers wondering whether they should seek to vindicate their rights and join a class action lawsuit. According to Hagens Berman LLP, one of the leading law firms involved in the class action litigation, the damages implicated in the Volkswagen scandal include premiums on vehicle purchases with (what was thought to be) fuel-saving engines, cost of unused warranties, cost of excess fuel associated with decreased car efficiency, and loss of car value in affected vehicles.
The types of litigants in this case will be varied. Therefore, before any decision is made, consumers should seek out a lawyer in their area. However, there is some preliminary information that may be useful to Volkswagen consumers. The most recent class of consumers that might be affected by this litigation are those who own a diesel version of the 2014 VW Toureg, 2015 Porsche Cayenne or 2016 Audi A6 Quattro, A7 Quattro, A8, or Q5. The EPA has accused Volkswagen of equipping these vehicles with emissions cheating defeat devices.
Furthermore, owners or leaseholders of Jetta Clean Diesel (2009-2015), Jetta Sportswagen (2009-2014), Beetle and Beetle convertible CleanDiesel (2012-2015), Audi A3 TDI (2010- 2015), Golf CleanDiesel (2010-2015), Golf Sportswagen Clean Diesel (2015) and Passat Clean Diesel (2012-2015) might also be concerned. Several law firms have already filed claims on behalf of car owners of these models.
Besides these considerations, Volkswagen consumers concerned with this controversy should understand the nature of a class action. At its core, a class action is a lawsuit whereby a single person or small group of individuals represents a larger class of complainants. This allows for pooling of resources, which can be used to secure a remedy for the larger group of complainants.
Class action suits will continue to be filed in district courts around the country. They will then be consolidated in a multi-district litigation. This will result in one very large overall claim to be heard in front of a single federal judge.
Volkswagen dealerships might be waging class action lawsuits of their own under breach of contract theory. Once this does occur, VW dealership owners can reach out to the firms that take the lead on the case in order to join the suit. The number of dealerships affected by the German car manufacturer will surely continue to create a litigation nightmare for company executives.